Never Caught

by Erica Armstrong Dunbar

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How did Ona Judge adapt to freedom in rural New England in Never Caught?  

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Ona Judge initially found it difficult to adapt to freedom in rural New England, as she could only find backbreaking domestic work as a domestic laborer.

Though incredibly glad that she's put her days of involuntary servitude behind her, Ona still has more than her fair share of problems in New England. As well as having to find accommodation, she needs to get a job. But without references or work samples, that's easier said than done.

However, Ona is able to find work, as we've seen, as a domestic laborer. When she was working as a slave in George Washington's household, some of the more difficult domestic chores were performed by white servants and male slaves, leaving Ona to tend to her master's delicate and intimate needs.

But as a domestic laborer, she's expected to scrub floors, do the laundry, cook meals, and clean houses. The hardest work of all is the preparation of the wash, which requires upwards of a hundred gallons of water per day to complete. Such heavy toil requires great strength and fortitude as Ona goes to and from the water pump up to five times a day.

All of this work is hard at the best of times, but especially in the depths of a snowy New England winter. And yet, despite her new life of physically demanding work in New Hampshire, Ona has chosen to accept this way of life rather than remain a slave, which says a lot about slavery and about how much she values freedom.

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